Communication, education key to member retention, credit union growth

COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL relationship -- or so pop psychology tells us. The concept is really quite simple: When we communicate, we exchange ideas and learn from one another. With that in mind, shouldn't a member's relationship with his or her credit union also involve the regular give and take of information, especially given recent legislation and changes to the financial services market? All indicators point to "yes."

Focus communication on member needs, wants
Credit union marketers must ask themselves a series of questions. First, why do members choose their credit unions? Is it the great rates? Sure. Shared resources? Of course. Personal service? That, too. But what about the advantage of being a member of a group of like-minded individuals with similar financial goals? That's one advantage credit unions really have over big banks -- and they need to communicate it at every turn. Members want low rates, but they need to feel that they get something more than just financial services from their credit union. Consistent, targeted communication will go far in instilling that feeling in members.

Is education important?
USA Federal Credit Union certainly seems to think so. According to Credit Union Times (April 1, 1998), this 57,000-member credit union's marketing mantra is simple: education, education, education.

So how does USA FCU communicate with and, therefore, educate its member base? Through educational marketing materials that are "big on facts, low on USA FCU promotional talk," including a thrice-yearly magazine, a monthly newsletter -- even a special newsletter for younger members. Is this educational communications strategy paying off? You bet. In fact, Credit Union Times reports: "With shares increasing by 15 percent last year and loans increasing by 17 percent, USA FCU's education approach seems to have hit the mark."

As a marketer, one can easily forget the importance of educational pieces, especially when there's a great deal to promote and limited space in which to promote it. However, using a fifty-fifty blend of eductional and promotional information in your marketing pieces can be the best way to communicate with members. That way, members will get more than just product information from your marketing materials. By reading informative articles on different financial situations, they'll learn how to best use your credit union's products, which could mean more satisfied members -- and marketers! -- in the end.

Just send us an e-mail today and find out how we can help you communicate with your members.

Can you afford not to communicate with members about H.R. 1151?

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